After yesterdays work, Jesus returned to Bethany to stay with Mary. Mary was a close confidant of Jesus. Mary seemed to have an intuition as to what Jesus needed. This created a certain amount of jealousy among the disciples. It also seems to have been the determining factor as to why Judas betrayed Jesus.
After a good nights rest Jesus returned to Jerusalem, where he spent most of the day in the temple teaching. He liked to tell illustrative stories that often had two meanings. Which interesting enough can be applied to American economics. He told a number of them that day. For this discussion, one of those stories will be discussed.
Jesus tells the story of a property owner. The owner developed the property, and then leased the property to some farmers. Apparently, this particular property owner was a person of considerable wealth. As he lived a distance from his land, perhaps in another country.
When the time was right, he sent his employees to collect his compensation for the rent of his land. But the employees upon arriving, encountered some tragedies.
This did not please the property owner. So he dispatched a larger contingency of employees, who met the same fate.
Determined to get what he considered fair compensation from his investment. He decided to send his son. Thinking that they would respect him because he was heir to a fortune and most likely a powerful and influential man. Concluding that hurting the son would result in swift judgment upon the farmers by the authorities. America the beautiful, that’s the history of democracy. Crush the workers equity for the sake of the profiteers.
That did not deter the farmers. Upon hearing that the owner was sending his son. They conspired among themselves, as to how they might kill him and seize his inheritance. When the opportunity presented itself, they murdered the son.
Jesus then asked those gathered in the temple, what they thought the lord or owner would do to those farmers? They answered Jesus, saying that the owner will, “Miserably destroy those wicked men, and will lease his vineyard to other farmers, who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” (Scriptural texts:Matthew 21:33-41).
The question Jesus asked, and the answer, is the most profound q/a of social economic realities in the history of labor relations. No matter how ancient or modern because it has and always will be the intent of capitalist to crush the workers. The church is the answer to such abusive behavior. But, the church for the most part is impotent concerning the issues of economic fairness. Contrast that with the Holy Week Jesus walked, with the Holy Week most churches are presenting about His walk. And it is absent His struggles against unfair secular, and meaningless religious institutions.
Jesus was a constant critic of economics. In the above story, he does not condemn the earning of money or reaping the profits from investments. It is about the lack of fairness that is central to the story. There is something about fairness or the lack thereof in economics that undresses people. Jesus taught this in Matthew 7:20, “Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.” Which allows us to discover true character, whether that of economic conglomerates or individuals.
From the story Jesus told about the householders and the farmers. Their opposing struggles, one for excessive profits, and the other for economic justice. A fair dollar, for a fair hour of work. Failure to do so results in stealing from the workers. In the lifetime of Jesus and in ours too. Denying economic fairness to the workforce, is the story of labor history. It is filled with beatings, stoning and even murders.
A close examination of Genesis 3:19 would indicate that God instituted the first economic system on earth. By your sweat and labor you will earn a living, penned Moses. Carried over into this story taught in the temple. It is a story about economic fairness. The farmers represent today’s work force. Being taken advantage of by the householder, today’s corporate conglomerates. Who by denying the farmers today’s workforce a fair share in the market place of economics. (Scriptural text:Matthew 21:33). Also according to, Matthew 21:33, the landowner makes available his land for the farming of fruit. With the corporate conglomerates as landowners refusing to equitably share the profits with the farmers or workforce. When the landowner seeks his compensation from his investment, it is refused. (Scriptural texts:Matthew 21:34-35). Could have been the worlds first organized strike strategy taught by Jesus. No wonder they wanted Jesus dead. As was discovered yesterday. Better is the way of unfairness, and even death, then to let the ways of Jesus and his teachings prevail.
One application, among many, for our Christ parable is the soaring costs for survival. Today we should refuse to pay those conglomerates what they consider fair compensation for making their products available to the buying public. There are many ways to do this. One way is to buy only what’s absolutely necessary. Plan your business, so that it becomes unnecessary to add extra miles because something was neglected. Some have dollar limits on certain purchases like gasoline. They find themselves spending less because they have put limits on their weekly millage. For them, they have saved a considerable amount of money. While refusing the gasoline conglomerates, what they would prefer to collect from them. To each their own. But all drivers need to take some course of action to cripple these gasoline conglomerates. As they say, it us or them baby! Some driver’s prefer that it is them! Don’t be tricked by falling gas prices. None of those oil conglomerates are starving or going naked.
And the same tactics, with adjustments, can be applied to all the other reckless profiteers. Which includes all levels governments whether local, state or the feds. Think not! That reckless taxation is not reckless profiteering. For this scenario, they represent the landowners and we the people the farmers. As the farmers in the story resisted, we to need to resist, and kill the householder economically. The crippling power of the strike accomplishes miracles for the paycheck with much forbearance over time. But the farmers, must be united. In today’s world the landowners have killed the farmers, sorry state it is! For the timid, organize work slow downs and called absences because of fair weather flu. Like the occasional nation wide bravery of fast food chain employees. All such behaviors contribute to killing the landowners. Absent the violence by the farmers because the farmers can not inherit their due inheritance. If the landowner, is completely destroyed by the farmers. Generally, just the right mix of non-violent violence will do what is necessary.
For all my anti-union readers out there, have you ever noticed that your bosses are often the perfect persona of the Christ image of a landowner by being anti-union? Why? Simple answer for oppressive and controlling reasons. Mostly centered around low wages and benefits. Don’t buy their argument, we can’t afford to pay more. We’re so broke that we have to cut your benefits. They have money to give outrageous bonuses to those within landowner hierarchy. And, lots of money to spend cloning politicians. Who then write laws at both the state and federal levels, that cripple the farmers. Wake up fellow farmers and fight for your inheritance.
Remember the Christ way is not easy but it is a necessary way. It’s all about changing yourself, so you can change your world.
Then the landowner errors again, but still determined to rob the farmers, he sends his son, who suffers the loss of his life. (Scriptural texts:Matthew 21:36-39).
That is the history of capitalistic economics. No matter how oppressive it is to the farmers with oppressive salaries, and other consumer costs. Corporate landowner profiteering will rebound with the war cry of Matthew 21:41, … destroy those wicked farmers the toiling workers of America. And create a new vineyard where economic injustice will again prevail. Which is exactly what has occurred with one presidential election after another. Including of course every congressional election. American politics is all about the rescue of those collective landowners at the expense of the farmers, the tax payers.
For awhile they will prevail, as this is their kingdom, the kingdom of the ungodly. The farmers or workforce are its captives because of Genesis 3:19, which teaches, by your sweat and labor you will earn a living. As did Christ, we should continue to resist such unfairness and fight for economic equality. That is the desired outcome of the worlds first economic system instituted by God and as recorded in Genesis 3:19
This is what we Christians call Holy Week. It commemorates the work, suffering, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Verse 42 of Matthew 21, is what we Christians need to cling to. Jesus said unto them, “Have you not read the scriptures, Psalms 118:22-23, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same became the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Suggesting that Christ is the corner stone that holds the foundation together. And indeed, it should be marvelous in the eyes of the Christ community. Life with its varied adversities do not always play out as we would like. But they will play out according to God’s plan. Because he is the corner stone, that holds the foundation together. The ultimate victory is ours through that marvelous corner stone for whom this week commemorates. His work, suffering, murder and resurrection. The very foundation that will usher in His kingdom on earth, someday in the future.
As we pass through a world that knows no fairness because it is not the world of God’s kingdom. The Christian community is redeemed by the sacrificial slaughter of Jesus Christ, Revelation 19:11-16. Which reads, “And I saw heaven open and, behold, a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and makes war.”
His eyes were like a flame of fire, And on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew, but He Himself.”
“And He was clothed with a vesture (His body crucified) dipped in blood; and His name was called the Word of God.”
“And the armies that were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
“And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations, and He shall rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press with the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
“And he had on His vesture, and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
This Messianic promise is our experience today because we were made clean by the vesture of His body dipped in blood. The very WORD of GOD, verse thirteen. With our futures being secured in His victorious return to earth. (Scriptural texts:Revelation 19:14-16).
The Christ message of Holy Week is twofold. Change your yourself and change your world. It starts with self. Renouncing behaviors opposed to the teachings of Christ. Then embrace His exhortation for newness of life provided through Jesus. Then taking up the cause of the cross, for a work place of justice. Then your life and work will take on new meaning. Keeping in mind our chief cornerstone is available to help those now who want to change the world the Christ way. By upsetting the apple cart by reversing the war orders of all economic oppressors found in Matthew 21:41 … destroy those wicked men and create a new vineyard where economic justice is a justice of the work force.